Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Walk in Their Shoes, Making Characters Real!

How much time and thought do you put into a fictional character?

There is more to a great fiction character than looks, a name and a general idea about what that character is like. The development of a character never ends, every page that is written should be written with the consideration of each character as a person in relation to everything that is happening. It's so easy to get caught up in the plot and dialogue and loose focus on the characters, so I am trying to put more thought into it, and walk in their shoes.

To walk in your characters shoes, however you need to know whose shoes you are getting into :)
There are three main things to think about -

One. The characters personality or soul... who is he/she inside? Not many real people fluctuate their personalities too dramatically in real life, unless there is medicinal influences :) So if your character stands up to a monster one minute and then is afraid of monsters two chapters later, the character is going to loose credibility with the reader, unless there is a reason (that is explained) for the sudden swing in mental status.

Two. The characters speech... Not every one talks the same, and I don't mean accents or language. If you have a group of real people together in a room ther are not all going to speak in the same way. Some people have certain words that they say more often than others (mine is 'like', how annoying), Some people swear, some people ramble, some people get confused when they are trying to get their point across and others don't say much (or enough) at all.

Three. The characters movement... Movement and body language is a huge part of what make a person real. A movement can tell you what a person is thinking or doing or feeling just as well as words can. Body language and also be something unique to a specific person, such as posture or a habit. Some people stand tall, some people slouch. Some people bite their lip, pull their ears, scratch their chin and all of these things could be significant to the way that person is feeling or thinking and could tell an observer a lot about the person with out a single word being said.

All three of these things all link up in such an intricate way that the resulting person is as individual as you can get.
If a person has a dark personality and says, "Get out of my way." with a dangerous smile, you would get out of their way, wouldn't you.
If a person has a bubbly personality and says, "Get out of my way." with a happy smile, you would smile with them and share the joke.

I was stuck on a paragraph the other night so I sat down and started thinking about all the different feelings and emotions I could come up with....
Happy, Sad, Angry, Embarrassed, Hateful, Spiteful, Trusting, Distrusting, Jealous, Fearful, Lonely, Hopeless, Flirtatious, Deceitful, Honest, Loving, Cruel, Disgusted, Respectful, Shocked, Surprised, Pained, Sarcastic, Loyal, Frustrated, Desired, Violated, Powerful, Confident, Self-conscious, Energized, Lazy, lethargic, Exhausted, Heartbroken, Betrayed, Peaceful, Anxious, Panicked, Apprehensive, Dubious, Optimistic, Shy, Confused, Joyous, Satisfied, Accomplished, Failed, Determined, Eager, Reluctant, Ignorant, Judgemental, Irritable, thoughtful, Calm, Reverent, Adoring, humble, egotistical, Greedy, Guilty, Apologetic, Murderous, Hesitant, Worried, Dutiful, Relaxed, Appreciative, Grateful, Brave, Serious, Carefree, Grudging, Regretful, Victorious, Rational, Irrational, Secure, Dominant, Safe, Cautious, Guarded, Willing, Concerned, Intrigued, Approving, Disapproving, Questioning,  Somber     ..... and so on and so on.
Who is your character?
What kind of person your character is can make all the difference to how they will react or feel in a situation. As an example I will give an event followed by a couple of different characters reactions

The character has just killed a man in self defense!

One is a young boy who has run away from home to join the army and the excitement of war. So far in the story he has been seen as cocky, boastful and eager to get involved in the bloody battles of his glorified war, even though he has never fought before in his life.
One is over come with emotion after he has killed a man for the first time. He is sickened with the realisation that war and killing is nothing like he imagined. The guilt, regret and visions of the dead man's face will keep him up at night.

Two is a renegade mercenary who has been separated from his company when they were over-run two days earlier. The man he killed had attacked two when he had tried to steal the man's food.
Two shows no emotion at all. Instead he wipes of his blade and proceeds to eat the food he has just obtained beside the still warm body of the man he just murdured. Two may even stay the night there, before leaving the body, unburied, to rot of the forest floor.

Three is a lone woman, travelling on her own. She has just left her home in order to flee her violent husband when she is set upon by a brigand in the woods who seeks to violate her. 
Three sheds a tear for the man she has killed, despite her hard life she is still a kind, caring and compassionate woman. So while she is saddened by the death she has cause, years of abuse have taught her to control her emotions when the situation calls for it. Out of respect for the gods she covers the man's body with rocks and continues on her way. 

Dialogue, Tone and Meaning.
Dialogue is an important part of your story, so long as you remember that dialogue is more than just words, it is a conversation between people. A section of speech that is filled with said, asked and replied is not only extremely boring for a reader, but also leave much room for confusion and misinterpretation. 
If a reader can not determine the tone or intended meaning of a characters words, then how can they know what they are supposed to feel about them. As a writer, the last thing you want to do is confuse your reader, and have them unwittingly that you character is a jerk when he is supposed to be an angel.

 Descriptive verbs, facial expression and body language, when used with your words, can help your reader create an accurate mental picture of the scene that is unfolding mental picture of the scene as it unfolds. For example...

"My name is John."
The man smiled. "My name is John," he introduced himself, cheerfully.
"My name is John," He muttered, avoiding her gaze.
"My name is John," he choked weakly, a trickle of blood escaping from the corner of his mouth.
"My name is John," Said the shopkeeper, his eyes narrowing (with suspicion)

Some more lists :)
Descriptive Verbs 
Said,  Replied,  Asked,  Answered,  Argued,  Shouted,  Complained,  Screamed,  Whispered,  Muttered,  Choked,  Spluttered,  Growled,  Spat,  Laughed,  Giggled,  Chuckled,  smiled,  Grinned,  Echoed,  Repeated,  Uttered,  Roared,  Barked,  Added,  Interrupted,  Joked,  Threatened, Admitted,  Asserted,  Indicated,  Presented,  Proposed,  Inferred,  Recommended,    
Suggested,  Denied,  Decided,  Reiterated,  Repeated,  Explained,  Criticized,  Revealed,  Concluded,  Addressed,  Commended,  Moaned,  Gasped,  Described,  Implied,  Presumed,  Yelled,  Offered,  Sighed,  Stated,  Bowed,  Nodded,  Motioned,  Gestured,  Breathed,  Cursed,  Shrugged, Yawned,  Snorted,  Swore,  Grimaced, Continued,  Commanded, Demanded,  Pointed, Objected, Beamed,  Blushed,  

I am working at the moment on a list of different, expressions, actions and behaviours and the varying contexts in which they can be used but it got a bit long so I might post it later when I am done. 
Laters, E 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Two Down ? To Go!

Hooray, Hooray! I just finished up the first draft of Chapter Two and I thought I would take a bit of a break before I run through it again for any boo boos :)

I am excited to say that Fall Of Light - Chapter One will be up for review in the circle tomorrow so we will see if I come out of it alive, LOL.
I realized after I submitted that the scene break got all messed up in the middle but I am sure that will be the least of my worries.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


So It's 2.44 am on Sunday morning...

This has been the biggest B*#CH of a week! Last post I was pretty stoked and then I hit a wall called life! At the moment my youngest is up sick so as usual my mind starts turning.

As I have mentioned before, while I work on my writing I look after my kids while my husband works away... but that is not everything.
What I have not mentioned before is that my Mum is currently going through chemotherapy after having a double mastectomy in February. This is how my killer week started out, spending 6 hours in a hospital after the receptionist 'forgot' we were sitting right in front of her!

The whole cancer thing has stirred up a heap of bitterness in me as this is not he first time my Mum has had to fight death and I get a bit angry at the unfairness of it!
About six years ago I was standing in my parents front yard with a friend after a night out at the pub when a couple of police officers pulled up in my Dads car. They told me that some kids had been fighting on the side of the road in the night and one had mistaken mum for one of his enemies and had hurled a rock through her drivers side window.
The rock was about the size of a watermelon and crushed her face.
My friend and I spent the night by the phone while mum had the initial re constructive surgery. The next morning I went to the hospital and had to see my mum coming out of the anesthesia, unaware of what had happened. Her face was swollen to four times its normal size.
Mum spent 5 days in the ICU and the another 3 weeks in the hospital, breathing through a tracheotomy. Her jaw was wired shut for 4 months and then we spent the next few years having more surgeries, including removing all her teeth.
The person responsible only got a few months in jail.

For years I was so angry about all of this, and then I started writing and channeled my emotions into my story. But after hours in hospital rooms on Monday, I found it hard to let it go again. Our family had only just recovered from the accident when Mum found the lump on boxing day, so sometimes it can seem a bit unfair.

But in the end I have my family and I know that there are so many others out there so much worse off.
So I will say goodnight, get some sleep and get back to writing. :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

So Random...

I am very happy with myself right now.
Over the last two days I have managed to write around 2000 words! Finally the first real draft of Fall of Light is almost complete! I am hoping to submit it to Crit very soon... How exciting :)

I have decided to skip the prologue for the time being. I might come back to it at some point, but I suppose that all depends on how everything pans out. I think my attachment to the prologue stems from the fact that it was the first idea I had for FOL. But I bet almost every novel ends quite differently to how it was first envisioned.

I have also decided that one of my key antagonists is going to flip... Bwa ha ha ha :)
When one of my evil characters sees the error of their ways they will turn to the side of good... He/she may/may not have a romantic relationship with one of the key protagonists, and then he/she may/may not die!

I am choosing to not give too much detail, as I have yet to decide myself lol.
You see, I had already envisioned said protagonist with a different character when I came up with this bad to good deal. Soooo.... I am seriously thinking that I may let the romance between the good and the reformed happen, and then kill him/her off. So that my original unrequited loves can be together at last :)

Thinking of all of this I am reminded of one of my key problems! (other than my grammar lol)
I can't seem to find a home for magic on the protagonist side! And I am worried that in the final battle good may be out-battled by evil.
I just can't seem to think of a good reason that anyone on the good side would have magic with out it seeming boring or cliche! But I can't get rid of the magic either.

I have yet to name my magic* so for now I will call use algebra lol.
Magic A is the 'Good' and Magic X is the 'Bad"...

Magic A is used by expanding on elements that already exist around the user.
Magic X is used by creating something completely new, something unnatural.

Using Magic A is great, using magic X is dangerous.
Magic A takes nothing. Magic X can slowly drive you mad, as it takes your very life and turns it to how it wants it.

This is what happened to Dhaharakan! He started out ambitious, but after a while he turned mad! Each time he used Magic X a small part of him was made evil, until he was all evil!

***** If anyone has any suggestions for names of Eiliennia magic please let me know...I am looking for a name that is respective to the magic. No light or dark, or god or evil! Cheers!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Higher Education!

So the intention was there! I paid my $20 for my practice test but for the first time last night I sat down, set my timer for two hours and sat my practice STAT test! Amazingly I got 59 out of 70... At first I was extremely disappointed at getting 11 wrong but once I converted my potential score and realized that it would be well above the tertiary entry level I needed to get into my uni courses I was stoked.
I also decided to take into consideration that I sat my home test between midnight and 2am so thats got to count for something right!?

So now all that is left to do is book the test and take it... phew! Not that I am going to get my hopes up because a multiple question test that they send to your home could be completely different to the actual test I take in the exam, and then there is the essay questions! Mmm that makes me nervous!

It has been so long since I wrote a formal essay to be graded. The STAT test require two essays to be written in an hour, one formal and one less formal but the sample questions I have seem freak me out! They are things like 'It is a basic human right that people should be able to choose what they want to read, view and think, and censorship infringes this basic human right.' --- This is one of the sample 'formal questions and sure I have my opinions on the subject but that is if I had time to think about it and write bout it, not have it thrown at me and have to write about it in half an hour!

In reality all the literature on the test say that the essay scores are relatively lenient as they look more at the quality of the argument and the flow of the writing but by jeebas it's nerve racking! :)

Then there is the other decision... my dream has always been to be a history/social sciences teacher in secondary education ( I know, sooo geeky!) but to do that would require at least two university courses which in the long run may end up expensive depending on how the HECS stands up against the husbands 'earnings'. So for the last few years I have settled with the idea of doing primary education, just so long as it's at least years 5 - 7, but now that the time of the decision is getting closer I am just not sure.

Oh well, I guess I will make the choice when the time comes... Sometime I wonder why I continue doing all of this but I guess it will be worth it in the end!

Laters :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fall of Light - First chapters outline

**There is one thing I left out in the outline of the prologue, partly because I was tired and partly because I am still unsure about it. From where I left of the party of men and Dean travel the road, stopping for rest and food at an inn in a small village. While they eat in the commons a man joins them at the table. This man introduces himself to Prince Ladislas and Dean as Griff. He claims to be a traveler and asks of news but seems to take an interest in Dean from the start. He is a little strange for a traveler, seeming more like a scholar. During the evening Griff gifts Dean with a small coin pendant for him to wear, saying that he found it on the road telling him to keep it. After an odd farewell they leave and continue on the way to Carrador. 

The meeting with Griff will tie in with a lot of the storyline down the track but for some reason it doesn't feel right to me yet so I will keep an open mind until I find a way to write it that works or feel better about it. 

Chapter One

It is now seven years since the end of the Borderwars. Dean is hard at work in the Golden Crown, the Inn where he has lived since he was brought to Carrador after his families death.
Ladislas was the one who brought him to the Inn and got the Inn keeper, Vern and his wife to take him in. They have done well by him even if they are not the warmest people in the world and he is comfortable.
It is a busy night and Dean is busy. He notices a man he knows as Wal sitting in the corner, Wal is an adviser for Prince Ladislas who checked in on Dean a few times for Ladislas when he was younger. It isn't unusual to see Wal in the Golden Crown for a drink on occasion but something about the way he is speaking to his companion makes Dean take notice. Dean gets busy with the customers but notices when Wal gets up and leaves. 

A short while later Dean is called outside to help stable a horse and as he is returning he hears voices talking on the other side of the stable wall. The tone of their urgently whispered conversation makes Dean freeze and listen. 
One of the men seems agitated and slightly scared as he tells the other that they should re-think their plan. The other man is angry and tells him that there is no way that can happen and that the men are in place. When the first voice begins to protest there is a thud and he is silenced as his body is slammed up against the outside of the stable wall where Dean was hidden. The angry man holds him against the wall and says that nothing will threaten their plans, not even the Princes' witch man. He says that there are far more dangerous things to fear than the crown and he has no desire to be dead or worse! The orders were Summerfest so Summerfest it is, agreed?! After a moment the man is released and they move away. 

Once Dean is sure they are gone he thinks over what he heard and knows it isn't good. Obviously there where people in Carrador who where planning to do something terrible on Summerfest but what was he to do about it? Who could he tell and what would he tell them? The city watch would laugh him out of the station if he was to tell them what he had heard, without even so much as a description of the alleged conspirators.
A few hours later he lay in bed, unable to ease the feeling of dread he remembered the men talking about the Princes' man and thought of Wal. He was at the Inn, maybe he knew something about this? Resolving to seek out Wal With this information in the morning he falls asleep.

Stealing away in the morning he makes his way up to the castle. He is stopped at the gates and tries to explain to the guards that he needs to speak to the princes adviser Wal and it is important. They dismiss his urgency and turn him away from the gates. 
Dean protests saying that he is known to Wal and has some information that may be critical to him. As one of the guards raises his hand demanding Dean leave the Captain emerges from beyond the gatehouse, demanding to know what is the disturbance. Dean looks at the man recognizing him as one of the men who had ridden with Ladislas when he had been brought to Carrador.
After the guard explains the situation the Captain looks at Dean asking if this was accurate, Dean nods. With a cock of his head the captain asks who Dean is as he looks familiar. After he remember where he has seen Dean the Captain admits him, introducing himself as Reeves, Capitan of the Princes Army. 

Dean is taken to Wal and recounts what he overheard, suddenly nervous as the seemingly useless information came out of his mouth. Wal is grave but friendly asking Dean to come with him as there is someone else who might be interested in what he has to say. 
Dean follows and is surprised when he is taken to Ladislas himself. Ladislas seems genuinely pleased to see him again, he thanks Dean for the news and says that he needs attentive people like Dean out in the City, telling him to keep his ears open and return to the castle if he sees anything that he feels they might need to know. 
Dean is excused and leaves, taking notice of the of grave expressions of the three men as the door was closed behind him.

This is my original beginning for Fall of Light but I am questioning it. Is it right that Dean ended up at the Inn? Or should Ladislas have taken him to work in the castle... Not that I am a fan of the whole Castle boy rises to the occasion but is Inn boy really all that much different? I have no intention for Dean to be adopted by the crown or anything but I think that it is important that he and Ladislas become friends. Perhaps once the friendship grows no one will care how he came to be there? 

All In The Mind!

Again it has taken me a while to get back here and I am eagerly anticipating my husband return on friday (2 nights away) so I can get a nice quiet week to get some work done. I am going to try write my outlines in separate posts under the lable Fall of Light for any one who is interested and if anyone has anything they want me to read let me know:)

So much of my writing is still in my mind and it's starting to get really exciting how things seem to just be opening up the further along I get. It is also kind of scary how many potential forks in the story are appearing.
Fall of light began with the world map, I still don't know how it started. What has surprised me is that my whole story evolved from that very first scene that I wrote with Dean witnessing the attack on his family. It was from this one chapter about a boy who I named after my son that whole world of history and people was created.
So I ask you to keep an open mind as I write my outline as I have still to decide on the directions some of my characters are to take. I would compare it to getting to know a friend, at first you don't know all that much about them so you can't really say what they think or will do. It's only after you learn more about their personality, their likes and dislikes, beliefs and ethics that you can make some kind of decision as to what they might do in a particular situation.
So bear with me as even I am not sure how it is all going to pan out as I have come to realise that I am only writing part of the story, the rest is writing itself.
Also if some of it doesn't seem to make sense or something let me know, it could be because I have made a major mistake or it could be just because I get most of my writing done late at night and I am a little fuddled :)